Jerome Powell says the Fed did not change course on interest rates in response to Trump

  • Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, denied that President Donald Trump's criticism of the central bank influenced its decision to maintain interest rates at their current levels.
  • "What we care about ... is doing our job for the American people and using our tools," Powell said at a press conference.
  • As recently as December, Trump discussed firing Powell because of widespread losses in the stock market.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank did not take "political considerations" into account when deciding on Wednesday to take a much more patient approach with interest rates. President Donald Trump has repeatedly attacked the Fed for raising rates.

Stocks surged after the Fed decided to hold interests rates in a range between 2.25 percent and 2.5 percent and said in a statement that it will be more "patient" in assessing future rate hikes. The bank also put out a separate statement to ease concerns about its balance sheet unwind, something which Trump has specifically attacked.

"What we care about, and really the only thing we care about at the Fed, is doing our job for the American people and using our tools," Powell said at a news conference.

"We're always going to do what we think is the right thing, we're never going to take political considerations into account or discuss them as part of our work. We're human, we make mistakes, but we're not going to make mistakes of character or integrity. I wouldn't want the public to know that and I wouldn't want them to see that in our actions," Powell added.

Trump's attacks have pointed at both Powell and the central bank. The president has said he's "not even a little bit happy with" Powell and thinks the Fed is "way-off base" with its monetary policy. As recently as December, Trump discussed firing Powell because of widespread losses in the stock market in the last three months of 2018.

Powell declared Jan. 4 that he would not resign if Trump asked him to step down.

Powell's statements followed the January meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee.